Hamilton’s SoBi bike-sharing program is back in business as of Tuesday following a pause after service provider Uber decided to walk away from the program in early June.
Now operated by the local not-for-profit Hamilton Bike Share Inc. (HBSI), the relaunched system spans from Ottawa Street to Dundas with over 800 bikes and 130 hubs available to rent 24/7.
The system will continue to offer pay-as-you-go (15¢ per minute) and monthly ($20 per month) membership plans, as well as a new seasonal supporter plan at $100 for six months.
Individuals who had a bike share membership in the past can log in to their account online at hamiltonbikeshare.ca or on the Social Bicycles app. Returning patrons can select a payment plan to re-subscribe.
New riders can also sign up on both the website and on the HBSI app.
The program is taking extra precautions during the current COVID-19 pandemic and is reassuring users that touch surfaces are being regularly sanitized on the bikes when they are serviced.
Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr, whose office received the bid and a $100,000 donation to save the bike share, says the delay in getting the system up and running was the result of technical issues around replacing Uber’s software.
“I guess there was a little bit more detailed work that needed to be done, including, you know, transferring all that technology from Uber or Social Bicycle’s previous tech in as short an order as possible to our interim operators,” said Farr.
HBSI says it plans to operate the system until February 2021 via revenue from its own internal fundraising, sponsorship, user revenue and organizational contributions.
City council has approved a non-profit organization’s pitch in June to operate the program at no cost to taxpayers through the rest of this year.
Hamilton’s bike share program dates back to 2014, when the city received a $1.6-million Metrolinx grant to buy the bicycles and stations.
Up until its demise in early June, the program boasted 26,000 registered users.
Questions about the resurrected Hamilton Bike Share can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 289-768-BIKE (2453) ext. 1.